Star Wars – The Old Republic Review
Bioware’s first foray into the world of MMORPGs is nothing short of spectacular with the recent holiday release of Star Wars – The Old Republic (SWTOR). Despite some server hiccups that until now are causing queuing problems, and a price tag that makes it the most expensive MMO to date, the game has reportedly exceeded the 1.5 million mark and is still growing. Positioned as a semi-sequel to two of the most successful video games in history, the first and second Star Wars – Knights Of The Old Republic, SWTOR is massive in its plotline and character diversity and has quite a crowd-drawing appeal.
The Good News about Star Wars – The Old Republic
This is Star Wars at its richest, in terms of character, story and game play. SWTOR is set just 300 years after Knights Of The Old Republic and 3,500 years before Episode 1, during conflicts resuming right after the creation of a tenuous peace accord between the Galactic Republic and a re-established Sith Empire.
The visuals are occasionally astounding and the game suffers relatively no glitches or lags in what can be considered a landmark achievement in MMOs. The gaming structure is based on quests that let players choose either the dark or light side of the Force by joining either the Galactic Republic or the Sith Empire. Make a choice among four classes on either side and you’re off on your “kill” or “rescue” quests. Each quest is prefaced with story dialogues and CGI backgrounders and you can even customize the class of your choice with familiar Star Wars species other than humans.
The first few SWTOR levels may be less than impressive but patience is key. After around 20 levels, the sheer scale of the game opens up. Things start to improve quickly after upgrading your skills and getting advanced Jedi training. More purposive Lightsaber maneuvers appear along with Force Powers which grants you the familiar telekinetic moves as well as lightning attacks from your hands. You earn credits with your Lightsaber fighting skills and once you have enough credits, you will be able to acquire your own space ship and fight multiplayer combats in deep space. The game also has its share of mini games to amuse yourself in the midst of your quests such as the familiar swoop racing seen in the Knights Of The Old Republic. All the additional mini challenges can add some credits, of course.
The Not So Good News about Star Wars – The Old Republic
Early quests are sure to underwhelm and I was a bit disappointed with the slow Lightsaber combats with its basic melee fighting models coming off with just a couple of attack modes. But this is just a warm up said to prepare the player for the more intense battles in the higher levels. Otherwise, the game looks solid and the promise of more visceral fun ahead should make the subscription worth it. Right now, I’m still enjoying the one-month freebie.
As of this writing, most online gamers still have to contend with lengthy server queues that only demonstrate the game’s massive popularity. If you are a Star Wars fan or have experienced the thrills of playing the preceding Knights Of The Old Republic, this is the game to be playing this year. Missing it is not an option. The SWTOR experience more than makes up for the $59.99 box price and the $14.99 monthly MMO subscription after 30 days (first month is free). It remains to be seen if the Star Wars universe offers a continuous stream of challenges and surprises to keep its members playing online, but for an impressive historic start, Bioware/EA has a lot to do to exceed the first few weeks.